The Carolina Panthers are enjoying their best run in franchise history but those who have been around the team for a long time know that it hasn’t always been easy. In fact, it very rarely has been easy.
In their 21 years as a franchise, Carolina failed to have back to back winning seasons at any point during that period. Before the arrival of rookie sensation and overall number one pick Cameron Newton in 2011, the Panthers hadn’t seen the post season since a spectacular meltdown by then quarterback Jake Delhomme in 2008. Everything that could go wrong, in those early years, seemed like it did for a team that made the motto ‘Keep Pounding’ their personal refrain on the way to their first and only Super Bowl, which they lost in the most heart breaking fashion imaginable.
From murder trials to alcoholism to domestic abuse and house fires, the Panthers have seen it all. The man who chronicled the numerous ups and downs of the star crossed organization was Scott Fowler, Panthers beat writer for the Charlotte Observer since their inception.
Over more than two decades of interaction with the team Scott has met and spoken with names that will eventually be enshrined in Canton during their first seasons with Carolina. He has spent more time around the locker room than some of the current coaching staff.
In his candid interviews, many exclusively given for the purposes of this book, Fowler reveals the inner workings of the Panthers organization while providing insight into the mindsets of many of the players and coaches. He speaks with Josh Norman about his unceremonious departure to Washington, discusses Ron Rivera and his evolution from ultra conservative coach on the hot seat to riverboat gambler with a winning streak on his hands and sheds some light on the journey of David Gettleman from bypassed commodity to one of the best GMs in the business. All the while he chronicles how, starting with the arrival of Auburn’s best QB to date, Carolina transformed from inconsistent bottom dweller to one of the top teams in the league.
In a particularly powerful segment, Fowler speaks with the grandmother of Chancellor Lee Adams. Chancellor is the son of former Panther Rae Carruth who was convicted of conspiring to murder his then girlfriend Cherica Adams and her unborn son in 1999. Chancellor was born 10 weeks early and suffered significant birth defects as a result. 16 years later, Fowler still keeps up with the boy and the inspirational life he is living in spite of the tragedy surrounding his family. His grandmother Saundra provides an unprecedented level of forgiveness and dedication in her interview for a story that originally appeared in the Charlotte Observer.
From beginning to end, this history of the Panthers focuses heavily on the last five years when the Panthers acquired what may become the two best players in their short history. With Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly began the renaissance for Carolina fans that culminated in their second Super Bowl appearance, that though once again ending in heartbreak, inspired plenty of confidence for years to come. Panthers Rising is about the decisions that shape an organization, the camaraderie that forms the foundation of a winner and the growing pains that a young team on the verge of greatness must endure to reach the promised land.
For any true Panthers fan, or anyone who just wants to know more about the team and how they came to be, Panthers Rising is a must-own historical account of a great team.
The book is available here on Amazon.